I have just returned home in the past weeks from my annual trek to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. I flew across the country in my Mooney with my BFF, Cat. Cat is a private pilot, 8th grade science teacher, C152 owner and OSH newbie. As we sat in our Mooney Girls/Mooney Ambassadors booth we had the pleasure of talking with hundreds of people. Cat was overwhelmed by the amount of goodwill, aviation activities and good old-fashioned fun to be had at #OSH15. She said, “People describe Oshkosh as Disneyland for aviators.” I replied, “Yes but at Disneyland you don’t meet hundreds of family there.”
One family element that was keenly missing at #OSH15 was my dear friend John Kounis. For those who don’t know, John was the Co-Founder and Editor of Pilot Getaways magazine. John and his brother George are a fixture in the General Aviation scene, whether it is discovery of a backcountry strip, speaking engagements, or lobbying the senate in California on behalf of the Recreational Aviation Foundation. John died unexpectedly on July 13th at age 51. The Kounis Brothers as I called them had truly never met a stranger. Larger than life, tremendously intelligent and both exhibited a great love of life and people. They are first generation Greeks raised in Glendale, California.
Recently I flew to Whiteman Airport [KWHP] to spend some time with George and his Mother, Zoe as they recover from the loss of John. As I spent days in their lovely home, I became instantly aware of a founding Greek philosophy, a code for behavior that has no translation into English that seems adequate. Philotimos is seen in the Kounis household, but I also saw it at the smattering of airports I stopped at to and from Oshkosh as well as at the convention itself. I just didn’t know what it was until now.
Philotimos is a critical element in understanding the human co-creative foundation. Literally it means the “love of honor,” and carries a very special sense of honor, obligation, self-respect and teamwork. It was considered as an “extremely sensitive region of men’s souls that gives forth gallantry, nobility and moral pride; it is the sense of honor and dignity.”
According to article I read Philotimo is the principle source of trust that enabled the group to overcome their fear of betrayal, their fear that one person’s unscrupulous or selfish desire would supersede the greater good of the whole. Aristotle observed that that all human actions have one or more of these seven causes: Chance Nature Compulsion Habit Reason Passion Desire Of these seven, if Reason and “constructive” desire were to prevail over compulsion, passion, old habits, chance, and “destructive” desire, then any group must adhere to a code of honor, which would form the covenant of cooperation. [Ninon Chrysochoos Prozonic and Robert Porter Lynch, http://www.philotimo.net/index.html]
Zoe told me that in ancient Greek times that if a stranger came to your house, you first fed, bathed, and offered the stranger a place to rest. After the stranger had received your hospitality, you then asked the person the reason for their visit. She explained that in this way the person was first greeted, honored and respected regardless of the purpose of their visit. And while I cannot imagine offering the FAA agent ramp checking me Philotimos, I wonder if a covenant of cooperation would be appropriate.
If applied, the implications of this ideal on our aviation community today could be profound. Those who break the bond of virtue by violating honor, respect, and love for one another can no longer be part of the group. Those who embody the rules of honor will cherish the greater good – all for one, one for all – thus being released from the bondage of fear of betrayal, released to explore the unknown together. Anyone who knows George and John Kounis experienced Philotimo in the flesh.
EAA Oshkosh is really a love affair. Over 500,000 made their way across the country to share the love for a week. Imagine if our moral code was to embody honor, love, obligation to others, self-respect and teamwork? How would we protect our airports, how would we welcome non-pilots to our events? Would selflessness impact the way that we inspire flight in the next generation?
I pride myself on being a lifetime learner. I, for one, am going to continue to embody Philotimos in our aviation community. Toward that end, anyone in CA, OR, AZ etc. that would like to join me this Saturday night, August 15th at Fly-In Movie Night at Oceano Airport [L52] will receive a warm greeting, advised the location of the restroom, bag of popcorn and s’more kit before I ask you if you came for Rocky and Bullwinkle or Caddyshack!